I mentioned this on my personal blog a few weeks ago, but I was waiting for my first payday to log it over here. I recently signed a trial contract to teach online classes for a university. I won’t be publicly mentioning the specific university for contractual reasons (though it’s not a secret if you want to ask privately or via email), but as online learning expands, online adjunct faculty positions are growing (I found this aggregator of teaching opportunities through a quick Google search, though I heard about my particular job opportunity through fortuitous eavesdropping). When I was putting in ridiculous workdays to finish my thesis last summer, I was doing it for the love of my men in jail. The thought of teaching at a university, or the flexibility of doing it online, really hadn’t crossed my mind. But in what I now know was a miraculous little moment — I was unexpectedly in another state for crying out loud! — I just happened to overhear something about an open university position that sounded like a perfect fit. And BAM! nine months later, I got my first paycheck.
This sum is actually just a flat rate (minus taxes) for the online training process I’ve been going through, and thus not indicative of my teaching salary, which won’t start arriving until mid-September. The course that I was hoping to teach was Money Management because, seriously, who wouldn’t want to teach something so fun?! But there were no openings this fall so I’ll be starting with a survey course of family studies research. If I get good student reviews, I’m hoping that I’ll eventually get to start sharing the joys of budgeting and Roth IRA contributions with college kids. Sweet!
In my training thus far, I can’t imagine a better fit for me right now than this work. The courses are almost entirely asynchronous, which means I don’t have to be online at specific times. I need to log in at least once a day to check student emails and progress, but if I’m having a rough day health-wise, I can just defer more substantive work until I’m feeling better. Molding young minds from my own bed in my pajamas = one sweet gig. Wish me luck!
Our first payday since we embarked on this “alternative lifestyle.” Tutoring will always be a fall-back income stream for us. Neal previously started his own SAT preparation company (as a 22-year-old college dropout — weird, right?) in order to make decent money with flexible work hours. Not too long after we got married in 2007, he began to talk about quitting the SAT business because after four years, teaching high school students the difference between nouns and verbs becomes tedious. But every year I persuasively talked him out of quitting with my elegant logical reasoning powers: “But we need FOOD! I’m NOT eating rice and beans every day!” Finally, last year, I gave in and he has spent the last several months not preparing students for the SAT, something he had previously done every spring for nearly ten years. I think he much prefers drawing stick-figure comics for a living (or not-living, as the case may be).
But I digress. (Fair warning: I do that a lot.) Back to tutoring as fall-back income stream. SAT prep expertise happens to be a very marketable skill and we’re confident that in a state like California where pretty much everyone takes the SAT, Neal could easily find tutoring work. But since we have the opportunity to be picky right now (until that day, about once a month, when I suddenly freak out because it’s painful to watch our account balance dwindle), SAT work is on the back burner. Although I’ve tutored people in everything from math and statistics to English and writing, I was also not actively pursuing tutoring work because (1) it is not necessarily my ideal work, (2) I hate marketing myself, and (3) I hate asking people for money. I like the flexibility of tutoring, which can ebb and flow with my health swings, but the other considerations made it less appealing. But when a new friend approached me about tutoring her in some college classes, and I was near one of those freak-out days, I said okay. And it’s actually turned out to be a lot more fun and interesting than I even expected. Can you believe I got paid to discuss the criminal justice system for 45 minutes the other day — something I do for free as often as I possibly can? It really is a pleasure to work with someone who, when given the opportunity to write about anything, wants to write essays about criminal justice reform, healthcare reform, and educational equality.
Still, I consider tutoring to be no more than an occasional income stream, at least for now. I am not actively recruiting new students and my current one will likely only need my help for writing-intensive classes. But if you hear of anyone specifically looking for tutoring on the criminal justice system, send ’em my way!